About the Story

THE MIND MUST BE CONVINCED tells the story of Ida Tarbell, the investigative journalist whose work helped break up the Standard Oil Company monopoly.

Labeled as one of the "muckraking" journalists of the early 20th century, Tarbell resented the title and preferred to view herself as an historian. As can be seen from her works, she was more interested in uncovering truth than in promoting any particular political agenda. She believed that "the mind must be convinced" by facts, rather than emotion or sensationalism, if positive and permanent change was to come.

Tarbell’s willingness to spend countless hours digging for factual information and its supporting documentation coupled with her commitment to treat her subjects fairly allowed her writings an authenticity that made them both popular and powerful. Indeed, her History of the Standard Oil Company – despite its unexciting title – served as the basis for the subsequent anti-trust legislation that broke up Rockefeller’s monopoly.

Like her fellow muckrakers, Tarbell believed that the illegalities and injustices of her day, particularly in industry, needed to be revealed. Yet, for all the power she wielded with her words, she remained a gentle, self-effacing person, one who was quite content to remain in the background – taking notes. Ida Tarbell’s tale shows the great difference one determined person can make in the lives of many.